Catherine Margaret Frandino Aiken, 99, died peacefully on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, at the Fort Hudson Nursing Center in Fort Edward. New York.
She was born July 31, 1923, in Dresden, New York, the daughter of Calogero (Carl) Frandino and Giuseppina (Josephine) LoPresti Frandino, immigrants from Patti, Sicily. Their Dresden house was built by the D&H Railroad Company, employer of her father.
At the age of 10, Catherine moved with her family to Gilmore Street in Whitehall, New York, where she entered sixth grade. Catherine graduated from Whitehall Central School, class of 1940, and continued her education taking postgraduate courses the following year.
She started working at the A&P grocery store at age 16, then as a telephone operator with AT&T in Whitehall and continued her business career as the office manager for Aiken Electric & Plumbing. In 1981 she started a new career as attendance officer at the Whitehall Central School District. For more than 10 years she single-handedly increased attendance at Whitehall High School until her retirement in 1993 at age 70.
Catherine was an active and committed Roman Catholic. She was a lifelong member of the Catholic Daughters of America. Catherine taught religious education and prepared over 400 children for their First Holy Communion. She organized Mass at the Chapel of the Annunciation at Huletts Landing until she was well into her 90s. She cleaned the church, washed and ironed all church linens and set up scripture readers and Eucharistic ministers on a weekly basis.
Catherine was responsible for beautiful fresh cut-flower arrangements at every Saturday evening Mass for 20 summers. She was honored by the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese a few years ago with a delightful front-page story in the diocesan newspaper The Evangelist on her lifetime devotion to the Church.
Catherine was a Gold Star Mother and attended yearly Whitehall Memorial Day services in honor of our fallen soldiers. She was most appreciative of the love and respect given to her by the Whitehall American Legion. Until a few years ago she attended the Vietnam Veterans Memorial service at SUNY Adirondack. She would place red carnations at the wall in memory of her son and many others who lost their lives in Vietnam.
Catherine was a colon cancer survivor in her 20s. She was very proud to be a regular yearly participant in colon cancer weekends sponsored by the Colon Club. She would spend time with young adult friends who were victims of that insidious disease. She counseled them and offered them hope. Her mantra was if you have faith, God will take care of everything.
After her visit to Red Sox spring training camp in Florida 20 years ago, she became the most steadfast fan. Her love for the Boston team had nothing to do with the hugs she received from first baseman Kevin Millar! She never missed a Sox game on TV during the next 20 seasons.
Her friends from Huletts and Whitehall will dearly miss her dinner parties.
Inviting 12 guests at a time, she would host all her friends on a rotating basis every few months. In return she was invited to dinner 33 times in one summer season!
In addition to her parents and husband William, Catherine is predeceased by her brothers Samuel, Philip, Joseph, Vincent, Nicholas, Anthony and William; her sister Marlena; and a nephew Christopher Frandino. Her son Sergeant William L. Aiken of the 101st Airborne Division was killed in Hue, Vietnam, on Nov. 13, 1970. She also was predeceased by members of the Richard C. Aiken family.
Catherine is survived by her children Catherine LaBombard (Jack) of Queensbury, Stephanie Copeland (John) of Rexford, Mary Beth Hadeka (Gerald) of Castleton, Vermont, and Carl Aiken (Inge) of Elizabethtown; her grandchildren Jane LaBombard, John LaBombard and Margaret LaBombard, Emily Copeland, Abigail Copeland and Christopher Copeland, Greta Sebastian Aiken and Leslie Aiken Overocker and Matthew Hadeka as well as 14 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews for whom she held a special place in her heart. She is also survived by three sisters-in-law: Sandra Aiken, Mildred Frandino Sheerin, and Patricia Frandino.
A Mass of Christian Burial for Catherine will be celebrated on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church, Wheeler Avenue, Whitehall, New York. There will be no calling hours.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Catherine’s memory go to Fort Hudson Nursing Center,319 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY 12828, the Whitehall Backpack Program, c/o Sarah Seybolt, Whitehall Central School District, 99 Buckley Rd., Whitehall NY 12887 or the Huletts Landing Volunteer Fire Department, 905 County Rd 6, Huletts Landing, NY 12841.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the staff and nurses at Fort Hudson Nursing Center for their kind, professional and compassionate care and love given to our mother.
Arrangements are under the care of the Jillson Funeral Home Inc., 46 Williams St., Whitehall, NY 12887.
Online condolences may be made at jillsonfuneralhome.com.